Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Design

The bear necessities

There is rather a sweet blog called ‘Dear Teddy‘ which I have seen mentioned in various places around the old interweb (Daddy Papersurfer, 70steen and Olga, the Traveling Bra – I would have thought another kind of teddy was more her style!).

It’s a blog, by for and about all those old stuffed animals and other beloved childhood toys which have a story to tell.”

Well, a few years ago, I was given a rather strange bear as a Christmas present. I hesitate to introduce him to the other bears over at ‘Dear Teddy’ as I’m not sure of the reception he would get from Grumpy Ted, Snowy Bear and Busy Bear. He is a rather groovy if dare I say, freakish bear designed by Phillipe Starke the famous French designer. Here is a photograph of him….

I’m not entirely sure that any story this little bear has to tell would be suitable for kiddie’s ears. Quite how the puppy, the lamb and the bunny ended up where they did is a story for Hallowe’en I’m sure and would probably be a cautionary tale for us all.

And talking of Hallowe’en, (bear with me- tenuous link following)   Kim over at Laketrees is running another of her wonderful competitions to win a portrait painted by her. The prize will be a portrait of a subject of your choosing, painted in oils/acrylics on a 90cm x 100cm canvas. All you have to do is post about the competition on your blog with a link back to Kim, subscribe to her feed by email and then comes the hard part – choose your subject (you? your son/daughter? partner? pet?) and in less than 250 words say why you have chosen your subject and why you should win! The competition closes on October 31st (Hallowe’en – now you get the link) at 12pm (not sure what time zone that is so get your entry in early to make sure you beat it – Kim lives in Australia!)

Kim also runs the ‘Top Artists Directory’ blog which is a fantastic resource to introduce you to the many talented artist who have blogs. I am in there but I actually feel a bit of a fraud, I’m not sure I’m really an artist as such – and I have been so slack at making books recently (too many holidays, I hear you cry!) but I will get back into it soon.

Milo continues to be a total time waster, the only time I get anything done is when he is like this

He is just so playful and cute, I find it hard to ignore him. He is off for his second jab tonight so he will be allowed out to play properly then and can mingle with other dogs. I shall take him over to see my friend who has two Cocker Spaniel puppies ( who are quite a bit older than Milo) and we shall see how he gets on with them. He should be OK as he came from a house with lots of other dogs. In fact, I’m amazed at how well he has adjusted to just being with me.

I gave him a bath a few days ago. What a sad little creature! There is not much dog under all that fur and he stood there, shivering with fear and looking very bedraggled, skinny and sorry for himself. Once dry and brushed, he looks more like a teddy than Edward Puppyhands does…

Another teddy who I am quite enamored of is this one – the iPulse Teddy Speaker

Your iPod sits in a pouch on his tummy, the controls are on his paws and coloured lights pulse in his feet in time to the music. That is one hi-tech teddy – a Christmas present for the baby that has everything – including an iPod full of nursery rhymes and lullabies….

Here’s a track that should be on there, this is the original version of ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’ by Henry Hall and his Orchestra – way before my time, you understand, but this is the version I remember from my childhood. And what about that record player? I’d like to see iPulse Teddy get that in his pouch…..


Home again, home again, jiggety jig…

Well, I’m back and I seem to have brought back some sunshine – not as warm as California sunshine but very welcome nontheless. I managed to twist my knee playing tennis on the my last day so the 10 hour journey home in my cramped seat, followed by a 3 hour drive home to Dorset was really uncomfortable and painful. It was a price worth paying though for the wonderful time I spent in Venice, Los Angeles.

It’s hard to pick out a highlight as I have so many happy memories but certainly one great day was spent at the J.Paul Getty Museum where we went to see an exhibition by the Italian sculptor Bernini, but also saw an astonishing exhibition of photographs by a German photographer called August Sander, which I thought was truly magnificent. Here are some photographs which #1 son and I took of the museum and gardens.

I also made a pilgrimage with my very patient friend, Claire, to Paper Source and stocked up on very lovely paper so expect a new burst of bookbinding activity!

I went to a party at the home of the composer Michael Brook and his wife, Julie. Michael writes wonderful music , including the scores for the movies ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Into the Wild’. He showed me a beautiful book about the work of Pierre Legrain and Rose Adler whose Art Deco bookbindings are absolutely exquisite and very inspiring. I found the book on Amazon and have ordered it, I’ll show you some photographs of these fantastic leather bindings, when it arrives.

Claire and her husband, Colin and I went to a great restaurant in Culver City called ‘Vinoteque‘. We had a great meal which was also a tutored wine tasting, comparing Old World and New World wines. The food was tailored to match each wine and it was so interesting to see how the wines complemented and added to the wonderful food. The wine tasting was followed by the US equivalent of a ‘pub quiz’. Astonishingly, our team, ‘The True Brits’ came second and we won a $10 voucher towards a future visit!

Anyway, I’m back now and I’m trying hard to catch up on the blogging front. I’m starting to get round all the blogs I normally visit but it’s a slow process. What with dodgy knees, unpacking, laundry and jet lag, it’s all been a bit mad. I found today, I had been tagged by Kim over at Laketrees. Actually she was sent three tags by Mariuca@Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery but I’m actually only going to do one today. The easiest one (and I think the most fun one). It’s called the Handbag Tag, and in Kim’s words:

The Handbag Tag is from ECL and here are the rules.
Find a safe quiet place free of significant others, nosey meme makers, priests, nuns, all things religious and men in general. (If you’re a guy just reverse this process to male and tell us about your wallet, tool box, briefcase or metro sexual accessory.)
1. Dump the contents of your handbag in a pile.
2. Take a photo of your handbag and the contents.
3. Be brave and ‘splain to your fellow bloggers what lurks inside the handbag.
4. Tag others who might want to embarrass themselves.
5. Answer these questions:
Describe the contents of your handbag. See my list below.

Purse, iPhone, earphones in wallet, camera, spare battery and memory card and case, sunglasses, reading glasses and spare pair, car keys, my Moo card mini cards and wallet, tin of M&S mints, Japanese wallet full of photographs of my boys and my passport, 3 Moleskine notebooks, 7 pens – various colours, 2 pencils, (1 automatic, 1 with sharpener and eraser), Prada perfume, lip balm, travel tooth brush and paste, mosquito repellant, hairbrush, Glastonbury Festival wrist band, various hair ties and clips.

SO MUCH STUFF! My only excuse is that I haven’t had time to empty out the holiday stuff and I don’t normally carry a lot of those things around. No wonder that one of my shoulders is lower than the other :-)

What’s the most important thing in your handbag? My iPhone
What’s the most embarrassing thing in your handbag? Too many pens, pencils and note books! Too much everything!
What’s the smallest thing in your handbag? Hair tie
Is there anything illegal in your handbag? No, although I notice that the pharmacy no longer sells the brand of mossie repellant I like – I think it probably contains something illegal…

So there you have it, I’m going to tag all my commentators, male and female. Show us your handbags, purses, briefcases, wallets, holdalls whatever.

I dare you!

PS You may notice that the menu at the top of my blog is looking a bit untidy. I have expanded the tutorial page to include a gallery of all my books (130 in the slide show I’m afraid!) as I realised that readers who were coming to my blog following ‘bookbinding’ links were probably hard pressed to actually find any, so I decided to include the gallery. Now just need to sell some of the buggers!

Parlez-vous français?

You know the song ‘New York, New York, so good they named it twice’? WELL……

I noticed that I have been nominated in the ‘Top 100 Female Bloggers’ list over at Enkay Blog. The list is calculated using a combination of PR, Technorati authority and Alexa ranking which all sounds very complicated – so complicated in fact that I make the list at number 50 AND number 51. This blog is so good they named it twice :-)

Every once in a while, I get an email from someone asking me how I make my books. I usually send them links to various wonderful web sites with tutorials and videos of the process. I made this book yesterday. It took me ages as I documented every step of the process and I have decided to share this with you all. I know that this is risky, as I plan to start selling my books (yes, yes, I know, I keep saying that, but believe me it WILL happen. Promise!) and by showing how it is done to the world and his wife, I am ostensibly reducing my market. I am banking on the probability that a lot of you are far too busy (or idle) to make books but for the interested few, there is now a tutorial. If you check out the tabs at the top of the page there is now one called ‘HOW’. (It had to be a short page name as it wouldn’t have fit in if I had called it ‘TUTORIAL’. I have also had to change the title of the CONTACT page to E-ME. Got to keep things tidy…..

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who tries it out so that I can explain anything tricky more clearly or if anything doesn’t make sense.

Now then moving on from a country which shall not be named for a while, to another of our European neighbours, France. When I was at school (Withington Girls’ School for the record) I was given a French vocabulary book. Our French teacher, Mrs Petit-Jean, was having a clear out and she gave us all a copy of this little book as she was otherwise going to throw them away as they were a bit(!) outdated.

Over the years since, this little book (published in 1949) has made us laugh at the quaintness of the vocabulary which now seems so antiquated.

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There are several entries which really make me wonder quite who the book was aimed at….check out the last entries on page 29…

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And after all the useful and innocent animal sounds…..

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Presumably after having his throat cut!

I hope I never have to use the phrase at the bottom of page 93…

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Schooldays. It all seems so long ago. It was so long ago. It’s quite frightening when I think back just how long ago it was. I remember it all so well though – it’s yesterday I have a problem with…

I do remember that I went to see the film WALL.E last week. It’s so good. The animation is astonishing and it’s a very sweet story with a topical, environmental message. And as a Mac fan(atic) I found this which I stumbled upon very amusing…those of you who have seen WALL.E will ‘get’ it.

There were lots of very cute little short videos on the WALL.E website – here are a couple. I think they are hilarious.

My next expedition is to London on Thursday. I am going to the Royal Opera House to see the Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe of China perform Swan Lake. You may remember the amazing video I posted last week – should be wonderful, I’ll let you know…

Where the wild things are…

Well, hello there, I’m back! I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to begin. The new haircut? The holiday plans? My meeting up with an old friend? The lovely walks?  No, it has to be my excuse for my absence. After #2 son’s graduation, he came back home with me and we have been hanging out together before he heads off again. It’s been a nice reminder of how life used to be, having a boy with a bottomless pit for a stomach in the house again, it’s been one long round of cooking, food shopping and laundry, movies, music and cooking. And more laundry.

The graduation ceremony was a great thrill for me and the rest of the family. I thought I would explode with pride. My son looked so handsome in his gown (minus cap, you will notice. Apparently, the graduates had been throwing them into the air for photographs after the ceremony and it was thought that was too dangerous – someone had hurt their eye a year or so ago, so political correctness prevailed and they were banned apart from in the official studio portraits – utter madness.)

My two sons and my ex and I, had a great few days in Leeds, it really is a fun city with lots of great shopping  (unless you are shopping with/for two very fussy sons – and I thought women were supposed to be bad!) and restaurants. We had one particularly wonderful dinner at a restaurant called Anthony’s which was a bit ‘Heston Blumenthal’ if you know what I mean! Every dish had at least one ingredient that made you say ‘What?!’ (risotto of white onion, parmesan air and espresso? Or poached quail, pea sorbet, cocoa, morels? Or how about my dessert of apple parfait, pork filo and sage ice cream?) We were all totally amazed at how delicious it all was, in fact we would go so far as to say it was one of the best (if not the best) dinner we had ever eaten.

Since we returned, #2 son has spent his days fishing in the river which runs through our garden – amazingly he actually managed to catch a fish yesterday (which he threw back). I don’t know who was more surprised #2 son, me or the fish! He saw an otter in the river while he was fishing but by the time he had shouted me to come and look, it had gone – probably terrified by the loud shouting coming from the river bank :-)

We did manage to spot a fox in the field next to my garden. Apparently, it has four fox cubs which we haven’t managed to see yet but the mother fox comes out every evening for a walk around the field. We managed to catch some shots of her including this one of the fox eyeing up a crow which seemed quite oblivious.

I love the view into the field, as do some others it seems…

We have had a really fun time since we got back from Leeds. I’m very conscious that these times together are going to be much rarer in the future. My nest will be well and truly empty. On the bright side I will have lots of time to make books and play tennis… (knee is finally better, by the way). I have been working on a photo album which I am making as a gift for a friend whose daughter is about to give birth to a little girl – my friend’s first grandchild. Here is a sneak preview.

By the way, an update on my garden furniture saga. PayPal finally decided in my favour and have refunded me £500 which is the most they can, the balance is still to come from the dodgy seller, (Gemma at Land of Sofas) so I’m not holding my breath. I was contacted by someone else who read about my problems here, she had also bought furniture from this wretched woman but had been too late to file a claim with PayPal, so she stands to lose all her money.

When I was searching for alternative garden furniture, I found a web site selling the same furniture, under a different name (Home Living Online) but I could tell from the telephone number that it was the same people. Please do not buy from this company. I have reported them to the Trading Standards people and I hope that they will stop them from swindling any more unsuspecting customers.

Well, it’s nice to be back blogging and I have missed my visits to my blogging friends – thank you for your concern at my absence, but fret not!  #2 son is off on holiday next week so the house will be quiet again and I can get back into a routine. Books and blogging here I come….

I’m off – again!

I am exhausted, a wreck, wrung out, I am drained. I have just finished watching the Wimbledon Men’s Final complete with rain breaks, several complete turnaround of fortunes, complaints from Texas about the organisation and weather (you know who you are) and finally a stunning victory by Rafael Nadal after an awesome and tightly contested match. A classic, classic match. I was torn as to who I wanted to win, I like them both so much but there was a wonderful winner in Rafael Nadal. Spain is on a roll this year…

And very gracious in defeat, he so nearly won – and he will be back, my hero, Roger Federer.

I must also mention, a young lady who won the Wimbledon Girls’ Singles title, Laura Robson – A BRIT!! Who would have thought. 14 years old and already carrying the hopes of an entire nation….poor thing!

So Wimbledon is over – what shall I do? Make some books maybe? I am dying to get back to doing something creative – at least until the Olympics start…. However, my #2 son graduates from university this week so we are off to Leeds for a few days. Before I go, I thought that I would post a few bits and pieces I have come across while roaming around the internet. This first, is a cool music video. Those of you who are Mac users will recognise the OS X desktop and marvel at how they did this…

I am desperate to see the movie WALL.E which doesn’t come out in the UK until 18th July but here is the trailer I found on Youtube.

and this is a preview of the Pixar short which precedes the film

and finally for the mathematically inclined, some pie charts…

This one is a depiction of things Rick Astley wouldn’t do…

Bye for now. I am off to be the proudest mum in the country. Expect much boasting and fab photos when I get back…